Saddle Height

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Phrygian77, Sep 21, 2021.

  1. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Ignore for a moment that this topic seems similar to another recent thread.

    I'm currently on vacation, over a couple hundred miles from home. Last night while I was relaxing and looking at some random guitar stuff online (FYI, you can't escape GAS on vacation), I just happened to come across a custom Thinline type guitar that peaked my interest on Reverb. To my surprise, it had been built and was being sold by a local here in this area. I made arrangements to see the guitar the next day.

    The first thing that I noticed was that the saddles were way down close to the bridge with some of the adjustment screws sticking up above the saddles (this was a vintage style stamped bridge with brass saddles by the way). The action however wasn't really low. The 6th sting was probably about .075-.08 at the 12th, about the same as most of my setups.

    My question is, who deliberately sets up a guitar with the saddles this way? I like my stings a bit above the the ashtray bridge, so it doesn't interfere too much with picking, and I certainly don't want the set screws poking my right hand while my palm is on the bridge. Some of my guitars I've had to reverse shim the neck, to get the saddles a little lower, because I ran out of height, and to keep the break angle in check. So, it seems to me like you'd have to try hard (or cut the neck pocket too deep) to even get the action that high with the saddles that low. This is the second time I've picked up a Tele that was setup like that, so now I'm wondering why.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  2. Timbresmith1

    Timbresmith1 Tele-Afflicted

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    It’s the opposite end of the same thing you do.
    Saddle-screw length problem.

    I see a reverse-shim, and that has to go. Right now.
     
  3. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    @Timbresmith1 I'm not sure what you're saying. On a few guitars, I've had to reverse shim to get the action up to an acceptable level, never the other way around. I just don't understand why someone would want their saddles practically sitting on the bridge. Too low of a break angle is also a problem.
     
  4. Timbresmith1

    Timbresmith1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Maybe it’s a thing with poorly-built guitars or aftermarket parts being off tolerance?
    I’ve set up thousands of guitars, and maybe 2 needed a shim at the wrong end, and those were absolutely bottom of the barrel guitars that were made for kids, or 60’s el-cheapo imports.
     
  5. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    @Timbresmith1 these are not kid parts. Is there a reason you're being condescending?
     
  6. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Afflicted

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    Eugh.
     
  7. highwaycat

    highwaycat Tele-Holic

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    I think he’s talking about two particular guitars.
    I just encountered a squier with a really bad neck pocket in another thread.

    I’ve had good results leveling the neck pocket instead of shimming, that’s always an option but for your guitar I’d take the neck off and see how it looks.
     
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  8. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I said a few, but it's two out of eight. Both are Warmoth necks, one on a Guitar Mill body, and one on a Fender MIM body. Anyway, it wasn't my intention to start a debate about shimming.
     
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  9. Timbresmith1

    Timbresmith1 Tele-Afflicted

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    I’m not condescending at all.
    There is something “Off” about the machining if you need a reverse shim.
    I AGREE with your general setup preference as stated in the 1st post.
    But, not negative neck-angle.

    I’ll add that I have worked on a few guitars lately that had factory setups with long saddle screws that were sticking up 3/16 of an inch above the saddles. This is on a working pro’s guitar.
    I mentioned swapping them for shorter set screws. He said it didn’t bother him at all- he’d never even noticed.
     
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  10. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    @Timbresmith1 I reread my post and realized that I said "most of my guitars" which was an error from rewriting that paragraph a couple of times.
     
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  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    My rule of thumb is that the fret plane should just hit the tops of the saddles at their very lowest adjustment. With most bridges that will give you playable action and enough adjustment in both directions to allow for future tweaks. I build my guitars that way regardless of the style of bridge, arch of the top or not, whether they are electric or acoustic. With only a very few exceptions that will give playable action (realizing that there are differences here too).

    When I encounter a guitar whose geometry does not meet that criteria I change the neck angle and/or add or remove overstand. That can mean shimming a Fender neck, it can mean resetting an acoustic. Its always the first step of any good setup - get the geometry correct and everything else will follow.
     
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  12. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I think the reason someone might do that is lack of experience. In other words, no good reason. It eliminates the ability to lower the action without shimming. Regardless of how you feel about screws in your palm, similar to intonation, the generic "OK" saddle height should be somewhere in the middle of the travel, so one can adjust in either direction. For personal taste, or different geography / humidity.
     
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  13. Racer5

    Racer5 Tele-Afflicted

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    It might be in my head but the key to a 'slinky' feeling tele with 3-saddle bridge is to have the saddles set low. Break angle behind the saddle plays into it a lot I think.

    Shim the neck on the neck side, lower the saddles, seems to instantly relieve that high tension feeling that some teles have.

    Being that low usually means the stock screws are going to stick up a bit.
     
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  14. Caffiend

    Caffiend TDPRI Member

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    My current parts Tele had pretty much this problem when first assembled, the saddles (Gotoh intune bridge) ended up practically sat on the plate and the guitar had problems once you moved away from cowboy chords that were due to excessively low break angle. A simple shim fixed the issue.

    Moving on from the disagreements over shimming style before it progresses to ‘full contact shims or not?’, this is really about a fresh build diy guitar being offered for sale with a crappy setup, unless I’ve misread the top post?

    OP, if you’re wondering whether you want to take a risk on this I’d say it’s pretty certain you can fix this instrument with a half decent setup. Thinlines are still bolt-on necks so there’s no voodoo unglueing to worry about. It’s worth having an idea what the parts resale value is just in case of unexpected trouble and if you can stay close enough to that you’re not taking much of a risk I’d say. The real question is did the seller want to have a guitar and thinks they screwed up, did they want to make money on a partscaster build or is it simply someone that likes shop time and is moving the last project on?
     
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  15. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Actually I think you nailed it with the first part of your post. What the builder's motivations are is useful for negotiation, but it doesn't change the evaluation of the build.

    The guitar might be got for less if the builder thinks they messed up. They likely don't realize it.just needs a shim, or they'd have done it.
     
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